Our forty days of walking in the desert of Lent are at an end. During Holy Week, we arrive at this special time of the Church when all Her members pray in a more focused manner so that each of us may draw ever closer to Christ. We also strive to draw closer to one another, to better care for our neighbors, and to give particular attention to those who are suffering.
Pope Francis has constantly reminded us – sometimes gently, sometimes vigorously – to care for one another, always asking for prayers in his own endeavors to live by the Word of God. The Church has been graced with four full years of his papacy; we pray for his strong and faithful leadership in the years to come.
Pope Francis has shown the Church a new path of humility, sacrifice and care for the least of us. He also clearly sees that care for our common home, the Earth, cannot be separated from the communion for one another.
All comes together in the Easter Season. Surely we see how splendidly Easter blends with the renewal of the earth in our part of the world: the new buds, the spring blossoms, the leafing out of trees, and seedlings emerging from our gardens. For farmers, the Easter season coincides with planting time and a welcomed return to the fields.
At Catholic Rural Life, we know that many of our members who are farmers, working or retired, still take a moment to express thanks for their vocation in life. Although agriculture has become very much a business, the seasonal return to the field causes a farmer to pause and reflect on their life’s work as a vocation.
Farmers in North America have been blessed with fertile land, a moderate climate and a plentiful supply of fresh water. We pray it stays this way for generations to come. Although we may debate whether our society is a socially just one, it remains a fairly secure one with plentiful food.
Farmers see themselves as faithful stewards of the land: devoted caretakers of God’s creation, or at least a part of it. More than just use the land as a resource for agricultural production, they nurture the soil and they strive to improve the productivity of crops and grazing livestock. Along with farm organizations and extension services, they develop better management techniques–all essential to sustainable agriculture and long-term food production.
Not to be left out, farmers and ranchers see themselves as providing food for all. They do so, we hope, in remembrance of Isidore the Farmer, patron saint of farm life along with his wife Maria, who would offer a meal to anyone who in hunger. By remembering this humble and pious saint, farmers enjoin onto themselves a responsibility to make sure that food is abundant, nutritious and available to all.
So this Easter Season, let us pray that farmers take a moment when in their fields and reflect on why they farm. We also invite everyone to set aside time in early May to recite the Novena to St. Isidore, leading up to his feast day on May 15.
Let us also pray for agricultural leaders – such as those in farm organizations, food production businesses, policy-makers – that they seriously consider the ethical implications of their work and vocation. Catholic Rural Life seeks to deepen the dialogue with agricultural leaders who are grappling with world food issues and environmental tipping-points.
Visit our dedicated website Faith, Food and the Environment to learn more about this ongoing project. We hope our faith-based approach provides a moral and meaningful perspective that will inspire and guide a new generation of agricultural producers and leaders.